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Love or Money? The Effects of Owner Motivation in the California Wine Industry

  • Fiona M. Scott Morton
  • Joel M. Podolny
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    Many industries are characterized by heterogeneous objectives on the part of firm owners. Owners of private firms, in particular, are likely to maximize utility, rather than profits. In this paper, we model and measure motivations of owners in on particular industry, the California wine industry. In both a formal model and an empirical analysis, we examine the implications of these motivations for market behavior. We find evidence that owners with strong non-financial motivations choose higher prices for their wines, controlling for quality; owners with strong profit-maximizing motives choose lower prices for their wines, controlling for quality. We also find that utility-maximizers are more likely to locate at the higher end of the quality spectrum, whereas profit-maximizers are more likely to locate at the lower end. We explore how the presence of a significant number of utility maximizers within an industry affects the competitive interactions within that industry. We conclude that some winery owners consume' features of their product or business as a substitute for profits and, in the process, provide softer price competition for for-profits. Additionally, in aggregate, their preference for quality can prevent entry into the high-quality segment on the part of profit-maximizing firms.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6743.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6743.

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    Date of creation: Oct 1998
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    Publication status: published as Scott Morton, Fiona M & Podolny, Joel M, 2002. "Love or Money? The Effects of Owner Motivation in the California Wine Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(4), pages 431-56, December.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6743
    Note: IO
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Futagami, Koichi & Okamura, Makoto, 1996. "Strategic Investment: The Labor-Managed Firm and the Profit-Maximizing Firm," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 73-91, August.
    2. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
    3. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
    4. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
    5. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 1998. "Nonprofit Production and Competition," NBER Working Papers 6377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Craig, Ben & Pencavel, John, 1992. "The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1083-105, December.
    7. Pencavel, John & Craig, Ben, 1994. "The Empirical Performance of Orthodox Models of the Firm: Conventional Firms and Worker Cooperatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 718-44, August.
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